Library filed under Noise from Oregon
Williams filed a lawsuit Friday against Invenergy, the Illinois-based company behind the wind farm, for non-economic losses up to $5 million, as well as economic losses -- mostly related to property value depreciation -- for $170,000. Since Invenergy began construction on the 50 wind turbines at Willow Creek in 2008, it has fought in the courts over noise compliance.
Williams acknowledged the company has tried to work on a solution, but he contends that the Chicago-based company's proposed measures are inadequate and untested. The complaint also notes that the local county commission and land-use appeals panels agreed that the wind farm was exceeding permissible noise levels, but officials have done nothing to curb the project's operations.
The county commission, called the Morrow County Court, voted 2-1 that although noise from the Willow Creek wind project exceeds state standards at a few homes, the violations did not warrant enforcement action.
The Morrow County Court stunned a crowd Wednesday when it refused to enforce an Oregon law that limits the noise a wind project can make at nearby homes. The court voted 2-1 that, although noise from the Willow Creek wind project exceeds state standards at a few homes, the violations did not warrant enforcement action.
Price was worried: If all these wind turbines surrounded him, would the noise grow and grow? The state limit on sound is 36 decibels. That's the loudest the sound can be at a person's home and is the benchmark a wind company must meet before being approved by the state.
A small group of researchers is looking into whether the symptoms of wind turbine noise could be more physical than mental. Leading this area is Alec Salt, who's been experimenting with the hearing of guinea pigs for about 10 years. The journal Hearing Research in August published Salt's paper showing that the human ear might have more acute sensitivities to low-frequency sound.
The county gave the wind farm operator six months to come into compliance. Neither side of the noise debate is pleased. The wind farm neighbors don't want to wait six months or more for peace and quiet. The energy company says it intends to keep generating wind power while it pursues its legal options.
The Oregon State Health Department has decided it is time to look into possible human health effects from industrial wind turbines. They have announced their steering committee will be comprised of wind farm developers, community members, the Department of Energy and Oregon's energy facility siting council, which oversees new industrial wind facility locations.
The growing number of wind farms has led to more complaints about their health effects, said Sujata Joshi, an epidemiologist in the environmental public health office. Health concerns raised to date focus on noise and vibration generated by the huge turbines. The assessment will start with the listening sessions.
Residents in small towns are fighting proposed projects, raising concerns about threats to birds and big game, as well as about the way the giant towers and their blinking lights spoil some of the West's most alluring views. Here, just west of where the Columbia bends north into Washington, some people are fighting turbines that are already up and running. In a region where people often have to holler to be heard over the roar of the wind across the barren hills, they say it is the windmills that make too much noise.
The Morrow County Planning Commission voted to give the owners of a wind farm six months to comply with state noise regulations. The county approved the 72-megawatt Willow Creek farm in 2005, and turbines began operating in December 2008.
The noise standard for wind farms, contained in Oregon Administrative Rule, states that noise from a wind facility may increase the ambient level by 10 adjusted decibels, or 10 dBA. A wind developer may measure the background noise to determine what the ambient noise is, or it can use an assumed level of 26 dBA. ...The commission then unanimously voted that Invenergy was in violation of the state noise rule and therefore out of compliance with its conditional use permit.
In a dramatic moment during a tense meeting in Boardman Tuesday night, Arman Kluehe stood up and began to drop $20 bills into a pile. "How much will it take to buy you so we can break the noise limit?" he asked the crowd. Several people in the room - close neighbors of the Willow Creek Wind Project - murmured their approval. In January, three of them turned down Invenergy, Willow Creek's parent company, when it offered to buy noise easements on their land.
The Willow Creek Energy Center is in violation of state noise standards for at least three nearby homes, its acoustical expert revealed at a planning commission meeting Tuesday night. Still up for debate, according to the other experts in attendance, is how much and how often. The meeting amounted to a day in court for the neighbors of the wind farm.
Dozens of wind turbines west of Boardman are so noisy, nearby homeowners say they're keeping them awake at night and even making them ill. "It's not healthy for us," Dan Williams said of the 240-foot-tall turbines he can see from his hilltop home. "It's like a freight train that's not coming or going." Dozens of wind turbines west of Boardman are so noisy, nearby homeowners say they're keeping them awake at night and even making them ill. "It's not healthy for us," Dan Williams said of the 240-foot-tall turbines he can see from his hilltop home. "It's like a freight train that's not coming or going." Williams is among neighbors along Oregon 74 demanding that Morrow County enforce state noise regulations on the Willow Creek Wind Energy Project or revoke its land-use permit.
Now Williams is ready to pack up and move. When he looks out his window, he sees a forest of wind towers. Behind his home, about a half mile away, another six turbines sit idle. Williams fears the day they start rotating, because, often, the sound of turbines already roars through his house like a freight train at top speed. "It's like a jet airplane that never takes off," said Sherry Eaton, another neighbor of the Willow Creek project. Eaton and her husband, Michael, are in despair over the wind project, which they say has ruined their chances for a peaceful life in the valley.
Wind energy is the latest rage in going green and in shifting the United States away from fossil-based energy supplies. And more wind turbines are coming to Oregon. It is even required by law. But with giant wind turbines now looming nearby, the Eaton's fear the rapid move to clean energy will come at the expense of their health. The problem is something called "Wind Turbine Syndrome."
The streamlined rules establish new procedures for demonstrating wind energy facility compliance with existing noise control standards. These standards are used by the Oregon Energy Facility Siting Council to evaluate the location of new energy facilities.